Forums » Elder Scrolls

Essential NPCs: Hate it or Love it?

    • 1441 posts
    May 28, 2015 1:17 PM EDT

    Essential NPCs, those important to a questline that, if they died, you could never complete the questline. Ever since NPCs were able to move around the world, there has been danger of these important ones getting ganked by a bandit group. Now, do you think Essential NPCs, such as children, or Arngeir, make the game less of a frustration to complete, or less realistic?

    I prefer Essential NPCs. I mean, in Morrowind, you could make the game unwinnable by killing Yagrum.

    • 485 posts
    May 28, 2015 1:24 PM EDT
    Let's consider fallout 3 for example. If I recall none of the nova save for a rare few are essential. There's nothing more infuriating than finding out the npc you're supposed to turn in a lengthy quest to has been killed off screen in a random death claw attack.

    It's bad enough random vampires in the city can kill off merchants. I especially hate it when they kill the high elf in windhelm that sells enchanted goods.
    • 490 posts
    May 28, 2015 1:39 PM EDT

    Absolutely hate essential NPCs. Creates this false sense of freedom and ruins immersion in my eyes. If you accidentally kill an important character, that is your fault. These seemingly invulnerable characters basically make you decide whose side you are really on for all the factions and quests that include them.

    • 1441 posts
    May 28, 2015 1:44 PM EDT

    So, you'd rather make the main quest unwinnable by killing say someone who is vital to it? I mean, if they gave you a choice to kill these important characters as part of an "evil ending" then that would make sense. Still what if you wanted to join the Stormcloaks, but killed Ulfric? You'd be out of that questline

    • 133 posts
    May 28, 2015 1:45 PM EDT
    I really hate essential NPCs, I think it would have been better if Bethesda found a way to work around it. If you were to accidentally kill an NPC essential to a quest line then you'd still be able to complete it through, some other way.

    I'm sure Bethesda could have come up with a better way round than just IMMORTAL NPC!!!
    • 1217 posts
    May 28, 2015 1:45 PM EDT

    I can't stand essential characters. There are so many alternatives to prevent unwanted characters, but if they can kill me, I should be able to kill them. What the point in including things like random attacks or wilderness encounters, or people talking about how dangerous it is out there if I'm the only one in any real danger? If they really want some consequences without inadvertently breaking quests, give NPCs an "injured" status, or something, where if they get mauled in an attack, they can't be interacted with for a few days. But I don't think any RPG in the TES/Fallout vein benefits from having essential NPCs.

    • 1217 posts
    May 28, 2015 1:48 PM EDT

    There are numerous ways to avoid having quest NPCs be essential, without risking their deaths. One of them is already built into gaming: save files.

  • May 28, 2015 1:48 PM EDT

    Oh god, the most pervasive word in Skyrim. Immersion.

    To be fair, I think this is one of the few times it's really necessary. I've often played Imperial soldiers who slaughter Stormcloaks on sight, but then that one general gets on his knees and I have to go look up his code. I think it's a terrible bit of game design and I'd rather if important NPCs were protected (killable only by the player, so no accidental dragons burning up Delphine on the way to Skyhaven, which actually happened to me once when I turned essential NPCs off entirely), and then if you still feel like slaughtering NPCs willy-nilly you get a notification (and maybe a letter from Skyrim's fancy schmancy Courier) to tell you which questlines you broke.

    Unkillable children I understand for political reasons (people would have blown up if Bethesda were making a "child killer simulator"), but it's still annoying. I appreciate the effort to add in realism with it, though.

  • Tom
    • 624 posts
    May 28, 2015 1:52 PM EDT

    Yes, because it makes sense if there's only one person in the entire world who has the information, and you kill them without getting that info, you are royally screwed.

    I hated invincible NPCs in Skyrim though. Freaking hated them.

    • 1441 posts
    May 28, 2015 2:06 PM EDT

    Like say, if you killed Paarthurnaxx a bit early. Or Yagrum Bagarn. Like, say if, in ES 6, say its set in Hammerfell. You need to craft the Shehai to defeat, I don't know, Sep. You accidently kill the IHigh Priest of the HoonDing, who has the knowledge to unlock. Ergo, you have doomed the world

    • 1217 posts
    May 28, 2015 2:13 PM EDT

    I think you're glossing over how difficult it is to "accidentally" kill someone. Like Paarthurnax shouldn't even be on that list. If you kill him, it's because you wanted him dead (or you were playing around with resto-looped gear).

  • Tom
    • 624 posts
    May 28, 2015 2:22 PM EDT

    Exactly. I like that bit of realism. I don't want my hand held.

    • 1441 posts
    May 28, 2015 2:27 PM EDT

    Still, I like it cause it saves frustration. Like, If I check to see if the guy is killable, and then gank him, unless I saved beforehand, I'm boned

    • 743 posts
    May 28, 2015 2:28 PM EDT

    Honestly, I hate essential NPC's, it shows the franchise is indeed dumbing down to appeal to "casual gamers", AKA, little kids running around trying to kill everyone and then cries because he killed someone he can't do a quest for.So the devs put an essential on their head so little kids would still buy the game. Bethesda abandoned hardcore roleplaying fans and catered to kids for the last 2 TES games. Morrowind handled this perfectly, if you killed a quest related NPC, they would let you know so you can load a previous save.

    • 1441 posts
    May 28, 2015 2:41 PM EDT

    Well, its not in some ways. Like the whole Quest Marker thing, its to save frustration. Often, when I played Morrowind, I found directions either vague, or wrong. Quest Markers help me find the dang thing, especially say, if its a tiny ring in a cave

    • 1217 posts
    May 28, 2015 2:45 PM EDT
    What do you mean "check to see if they're killable?" The whole point is that *everyone* would be killable. There's no need to check. You then need to think twice about who you pick fights with. If you're just checking to see if people can be killed, why wouldn't you make a save before hand. Either way, it's the player's fault if they do something dumb. The game doesn't spare you from your mistakes when you jump off a four meter ledge, so why should it when you decide to stab people?
    • 1217 posts
    May 28, 2015 2:47 PM EDT
    I disagree that this a symptom of dumbing down. If that were the case, and they're just trying to appeal to people, then it would be advertised, so people actually know it's a feature. I'm not a dev or a marketer, though, so I certainly wouldn't know for sure.
    • 490 posts
    May 28, 2015 2:48 PM EDT

    Sure, but why would you kill Ulfric if you wanted to join the Stormcloaks...? That's my point.

    Also, I did not mention that they could easily alter quests in a few ways. Say have a failsafe for some of the quests. If I wanted to join the Stormcloaks and somehow killed Ulfric then have his second in command take over and the questline alters.

    I also wouldn't be mad if the questline failed. Quests in these games are too easy to fulfill, everything is fool proof. I enjoy at least a little bit of tension and stress which can add to excitement. Risk is a good thing and should be introduced in these games.

    • 490 posts
    May 28, 2015 2:50 PM EDT

    Then make your decisions carefully! You kill a person in a game, either you saved and are having a bit of fun or you have good reason to kill that person.

    Accidental kills are another thing, but something that shouldn't be safeguarded I don't think. Mistakes, or the concept of being able to make mistakes, would make the game a whole lot more exciting.

    • 207 posts
    May 28, 2015 2:52 PM EDT

    Well its just tedious if dickheads like rolf or maven are essential and I know i won't need them in a perticular playtrough

    But I'm a fan of the fact that some random asshole can't kill people i need for quests.

    • 1441 posts
    May 28, 2015 3:01 PM EDT

    Thats the point. Say, if Brynolf went out for a stroll and gor eaten by a dragon, who would be the third Nightingale? Personally, I'd vote Delvin, or Ciruin, cause, if I recall, he's voiced by Stephen Russel, AKA Garett.

    • 743 posts
    May 28, 2015 3:03 PM EDT

    If you haven't seen Samyoul's video on TES dumbing down, I highly recommend you check it out. Anyways I digress. I'm not inquiring that essential characters is a way to draw little kids in, as you suggested I was stating, Borom. What I mean is that its a way to keep them playing the game. Imagine a non essential filled Skyrim.A little kid is going on a rampage, killing everyone in Whiterun. Later a friend tells him about a quest he wants to do to get the Ebony Blade, which requires Jarl Balgruff to be alive. The kid throws a fit because he cannot get this AWESOME NINJA SWORD because he killed Balgruff, and doesn't know how to load a save, and so he trades the game in to play Call of Duty, where he can kill anything without crying. That's what I mean by appealing to casual gamers. Its not an attractive feature, its one to keep them playing. 

    • 743 posts
    May 28, 2015 3:06 PM EDT

    Making them only killable by the player?

    • 1441 posts
    May 28, 2015 3:07 PM EDT

    There was also a counter video, how its not dumbing down. Its to make the game less frustrating

    • 485 posts
    May 28, 2015 3:09 PM EDT
    This is going to devolve into a casuals vs hardcore debate. I can feel it.